NEW YORK — Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced Friday that 20 clubs have reached the 85 percent threshold of fully vaccinated Tier 1 individuals. The Red Sox still aren’t one of them and, frankly, don’t know if they will reach that mark.
“I’m staying optimistic,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said prior to the series finale against the Yankees. “I don’t think this is a done deal, even though we’re not there yet. But I don’t know that I could honestly make a prediction on whether we will get there. I certainly hope that we do.
“We’ve been trying to do everything we can to help guys get on board, but I’m not sure yet where that’s going to go.”
The Yankees achieved 85 percent in April, allowing the club to loosen some COVID-19 protocols. They don’t have to wear masks while in the dugout, and can have their families with them on the road. The Red Sox still have to adhere to MLB’s initial guidelines.
As Bloom noted, the Sox remain diligent in their efforts to try to inform players as best they can on the benefits of getting the vaccine, but still recognize it’s a personal choice.
“It is a choice that everybody has a right to make for themselves,” Bloom said. “It’s a choice that does have an effect on the people around you. But it’s still a choice that everybody has the right to make, and we need to respect that, too. Even while we have a strong stance in favor of being vaccinated.”
Bloom high on trio to complete Andrew Benintendi trade
The Red Sox completed the Andrew Benintendi trade Friday, acquiring righthanded pitchers Luis De La Rosa and Grant Gambrell from the Royals, in addition to minor-league outfielder Freddy Valdez from the New York Mets.
De La Rosa made his debut in the Dominican Summer League at 16 years old in 2019. He started 11 games (38⅔ innings), striking out 52 batters with a 2.33 ERA. De La Rosa converted from shortstop to pitcher just before Kansas City signed him.
“For a 16-year-old, he really performed well in that league, and especially in terms of his strike throwing which is not a given for young players at that age,” Bloom said. “And we got to see him stateside this year. He looks really good, loose, projectable and very athletic.”
Gambrell was a third-round pick by the Royals out of Oregon State in 2019. He has a 4.37 ERA in 22⅔ innings in High A this year, and Bloom said it’s likely that he begins in High A Greenville.
“Big, physical kid,” Bloom said regarding the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Gambrell. “He’s got two different fastballs, a breaking ball, and a changeup. He has a chance to be a workhorse in some capacity.”
Valdez, a corner outfielder, hit .274 with six homers between the DSL and rookie ball in 2019.
“To get into pro ball and perform the way he did initially was really impressive,” Bloom said of the 19-year-old. “We got him on our radar and we got to see him a little bit in extended. The tools are all there obviously to be a power hitting corner outfielder.”
Leadoff questions continue
The Red Sox used Kiké Hernández in the leadoff spot in 39 of their first 55 games, but Sunday was their fourth straight game with Danny Santana in the spot. He went 0-for-3, though Christian Arroyo led off the eighth with a critical double as a pinch hitter. Hernández, who endured a 0 for 27 skid prior to Saturday night’s go-ahead double in the eighth, has a .277 on-base percentage. Santana is at .205 13 games into his time with the Red Sox, and the team has a combined .291 OBP at leadoff, bottom five in the majors. “I think it’s still a work in progress,” Bloom said. “We haven’t necessarily found that one guy right up at the top now. And maybe as this thing evolves, you know, obviously. Alex [Cora] will see what he wants to put out there on a daily basis, we may see different looks versus righties versus lefties. And that’s OK” . . . The Red Sox stayed away from J.D. Martinez for the second straight game, after he jammed his left wrist while sliding into second during the third inning Friday. X-rays came back negative. “He’s a little bit sore not as sore as yesterday actually,” Cora said. “I think one more day will benefit him, maybe two.” Cora doesn’t feel as if this will require an injured list stint for the designated hitter. “Right now we feel like he’s progressing,” Cora said. “It’s just us thinking ahead and not pushing him so hard” . . . The Red Sox still don’t have a timetable for Chris Sale, who is going through his progression following March 2020 Tommy John surgery. Yankees righthander Luis Severino, who had Tommy John a month before Sale, made his first rehab appearance Sunday, his fastball hitting 96-98 m.p.h. in 2⅔ innings with Low A Tampa.